RIYADH: King Salman’s tour of Asia has given a new dimension to bilateral relations with countries of the region, commentators said.
The tour comes at a time when the Kingdom is working keenly to diversify its economy, having launched the ambitious Vision 2030 reform plan.
Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a senior member of the Shoura Council, told Arab News on Friday: “King Salman’s visit to the Southeast Asian countries is to sustain good relations with Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Japan and China as well as for the benefit of the Saudi economy that will help better execute the strategic plan Vision 2030.”
The king’s landmark tour will also be beneficial to the Gulf states and the wider Islamic world, Al-Khunaizi observed.
He said scores of agreements worth billions of dollars signed during the royal tour will help the Saudi economy to grow faster, and help create more jobs for Saudi graduates.
Dr. Majed Abdullah Al-Hedayan, a legal consultant and investment expert in Riyadh, said: “The Asian tour by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques comes at a time when the Kingdom is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil dominance and consolidate (the) relations of Saudi Arabia with the Muslim world around Asia.
“After King Salman was able to arrange a special relationship on the Arab and the Gulf level on a number of strategic issues, as well as (having) formed a leading Islamic alliance to counter terrorism in the region and around the world, the Asian tour of King Salman is to deepen relations between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Asian countries in terms of (the economy) as well as for security and stability.”
He further underlined that the Saudi leadership is working to diversify its strategic partnership with East Asian countries to the highest level, to enhance the position of the Kingdom as a gateway and bridge between Asia and Africa.
Saudi minister attends swearing-in ceremony of Djibouti’s president
Updated 22 min 31 sec ago
DJIBOUTI: Ahmed Abdul Aziz Kattan, Saudi minister of state for African affairs, has attended on behalf of King Salman the swearing-in ceremony of Ismail Omar Guelleh after he was reelected for a new term as president of Djibouti.
Kattan conveyed to the elected president the congratulations and wishes of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for more progress and prosperity.
Who’s Who: Alanoud Abdullah Al-Showaier, GM at Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
Updated 6 min 53 sec ago
Alanoud Abdullah Al-Showaier has been the general manager of knowledge and digital content at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology since January 2021.
The knowledge and digital content department seeks to achieve the key objectives of Vision 2030 through eliminating digital illiteracy and building an integrated ecosystem for disseminating digital knowledge and enhancing technical content.
Prior to her new role, Al-Showaier served as the director of production and marketing communication programs at Saudi Customs from July 2019 to December 2020.
Before she joined the government sector, Al-Showaier worked for more than six years in the private sector, from 2013 until 2019. She spent one year at Al-Tayyar Travel Group as a PR and marketing specialist. After that, she worked for five years in communication and marketing agencies as an account and project director and key adviser to the CEO.
Al-Showaier has a track record of leading and overseeing brands of all sectors from private to government and semi-government for more than nine years. She also worked for more than 25 clients in several sectors.
She has been a member of the digital media committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry since October 2020, and a member of the arbitration committee at Pioneer Marketing Award since November 2019.
She was an invited speaker on the Misk Media Forum in 2019 as well as the Second Summit on Women’s Enablement in the Technology Sector.
Al-Showaier was chosen for the Women Leaders 2030 program and graduated from the Leading for Results Programme offered by INSEAD Executive Education.
She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from King Saud University in Riyadh in 2010 and holds a diploma in digital marketing from the DM3 Institute.
Clockwise from left: Sanitation workers collect litter during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah; piles of plastic bottles before they are recycled; circular fields, part of the green oasis of Wadi Al-Dawasir. (AFP/File Photos)
Organic waste offers Saudi Arabia a plentiful and sustainable resource
Most of the 15 million tons of garbage generated every year ends up in giant landfills
With recycling incentives, discarded plastics could be reused in housing, roads and even artwork
Updated 46 min 39 sec ago
George Charles Darley
RIYADH: Once upon a time, mankind produced a small amount of waste. Food was not packaged, fruit and vegetable peelings were fed to animals and the dung from horses and camels was used for fertilizer or dried and burned for heating. Most of what came from the earth went directly back into the earth with little or no harm to the environment.
Today, we live in a consumer age in which multitudes of products are purchased and the ensuing trash disposed of with little or no regard for its detrimental impact. Many single-use goods are manufactured and distributed at considerable expense, only to be momentarily used and then thrown away forever.
Saudi Arabia produces no less than 15 million tons of garbage per year — most of which ends up in giant landfills, full of dangerous toxins that seep deep into the ground.
Fortunately, there are now signs of a sea change, both in the Kingdom and around the world. An emerging concept known as “the circular economy” holds that any form of solid waste can be the raw material for a new and more valuable resource.
This is a contemporary answer to alchemy — the medieval quest to turn base matter into gold.
The circular economy involves both upcycling (the process of transforming waste materials into products of greater value) and downcycling (whereby discarded material is used to create something of lower quality and functionality).
Plastic is an obvious starting point. Heralded as a miracle substance almost a century ago, it became ubiquitous in our groceries, clothing, cars and electronic devices.
That initial enthusiasm for plastic has gradually led to a sober realization that it takes up to 500 years to decompose — presenting an environmental calamity that we witness daily on streets littered with plastic bags, cups, bottles and straws.
But did you know that some 50 percent of the plastic waste in Saudi Arabia is collected for recycling?
Once cleaned and processed, this used plastic can be transformed into pellets, which in turn are melted down to form anything from household tiles to benches to roadside curbs. Japan is the leader in this respect, now recycling almost 90 percent of its plastic waste.
In fact, it is normal in Japan for households to have over half a dozen different containers for various kinds of trash, to ease sorting for recycling purposes.
India’s Kerala Highway Research Institute has developed a recycled, plastic-derived road-surfacing material that is more durable than conventional tarmac and able to withstand the heavy monsoon rains.
Household waste can also produce the energy needed to heat homes and charge electric cars of the future.
As organic matter (that is, anything from apple cores to onion skins) decomposes, it produces methane gas — a source of energy. Other solid waste — for example, cardboard and wood — can be incinerated, again to provide energy.
These processes are collectively known as “waste-to-energy” (WtE). Methods also exist for the filtration of the resulting fumes, reducing carbon output from WtE to almost zero.
A 2017 study by King Saud University’s Department of Engineering Sciences concluded that Jeddah alone has the potential to produce 180 megawatts (MW) of electricity from garbage incineration and another 87.3 MW from garbage-sourced synthetic gas (syngas).
Another study by Dr. Abdul-Sattar Nizami, assistant professor at the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Studies at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University, estimates that 3 terawatt-hours per year could be generated if all of Saudi Arabia’s food waste was utilized in syngas plants.
Sewage is another valuable resource, in two ways. First, just like household waste, sewage produces methane, which can be harnessed to produce energy. Second, sewage water can be treated and reused for irrigation and industrial purposes.
The potential gasification of solid waste and sewage is especially pertinent to Saudi Arabia, which derives a large proportion of its freshwater from desalinated seawater, every drop of which is precious.
RECYLING IN SAUDI ARABIA
* 15m - Tonnes of garbage produced by KSA per year.
* 50% - Plastic waste collected for recycling.
* 3TW-hours - Energy potential from food waste per year.
The Saudi government has already realized this and is taking proactive steps to generate at least half of its energy requirements from renewables by 2030. “Waste to energy” will no doubt play a role in this new paradigm.
In the city of Marselisborg in Denmark, sewage-derived methane now generates over 150 percent of the electricity needed to run its water-treatment plant. The surplus power is used to pump drinking water to homes and offices.
Much of Saudi Arabia’s sewage is filtered and repurposed, presenting an opportunity to produce cheap and abundant energy.
A similar philosophy can be applied to land use. Areas currently dismissed as wasteland can be reimagined as beautiful public spaces.
King Salman is a pioneer in this regard. Up until his tenure as governor of Riyadh Province, Wadi Hanifah, the dry riverbed that winds down the western edge of Riyadh, was an unsightly dumping ground for garbage and industrial effluent.
Working with an international team of landscapers, botanists and water-management experts, King Salman transformed the wadi into the exquisite meandering parkland it is today, with its thousands of trees, lush wetlands and charming picnic spots.
Another example of wasteland regeneration is the Highline of Manhattan — an elevated rail track that was abandoned after the Port of New York was largely shut down in the 1960s.
Instead of being demolished at great trouble and expense, this rusty eyesore was turned into a lovely green walkway through the concrete jungle and is today a major tourist attraction.
And just as wastelands can be repurposed to create attractive new spaces, many artists are using discarded materials to create stunning sculptures, while making powerful statements about our abuse of the planet.
The Milan-based artist Maria Cristina Finucci used two tons of plastic bottle caps and thousands of red-net food bags, placed inside recycled plastic containers, to spell out the word “HELP.”
One critic described this work as “a cry from humanity ... to curb the environmental disaster of the pollution of the seas.”
In a similar vein, two Singaporean artists, Von Wong and Joshua Goh, created a work called “Plastikophobia” — an immersive art installation made from 18,000 discarded plastic cups, to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution.
After decades of short-termism and willful denial of environmental destruction, all-encompassing smart waste-management policies are still in their infancy. The know-how and technology exist. They just need to be put into practice.
The Kingdom is already striking out in the right direction. Its Saudi Green Initiative, launched in March, calls for regional cooperation to tackle environmental challenges, boost the use of renewables and eliminate more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions.
The Middle East Green Initiative likewise sets out to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent across the region.
There are also plans to plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom and restore 40 million hectares of degraded land, while across the wider region there are plans for 50 billion trees and the restoration of 200 million hectares of degraded land.
Much will depend upon enlightenment and imagination at a societal and individual level. Do we continue to regard our world as a supposedly infinite source of material for our consumption and as a dumping ground for the resulting junk, or do we aim for a cleaner, more sustainable circular economy?
Young people, in particular, are increasingly concerned for the future of their planet and are highly motivated to protect it. This awakening is already beginning to translate into government policy, in Saudi Arabia and around the world.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 416,759
A total of 7,147 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far
Updated 15 May 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 13 deaths from COVID-19 and 837 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 290 were recorded in Riyadh, 240 in Makkah, 97 in the the Eastern Province, 59 in Asir, 55 in Madinah, 28 in Jazan, 15 in Najran, 10 in Hail, eight in Al-Baha, five in Al-Jouf, and one in Tabuk.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 416,759 after 1,012 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 7,147 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 11.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.